In the practice of any sport there is the likelihood of sports injuries. Tennis is such a physically complete sport, where most of the muscles are used, that it is easy to injure any part of the body. That is why it is so important to know the most common types of sports injuries in tennis.
If you are an athlete and want to know the main sports injuries in tennis players, how to prevent and treat them, continue reading this post. Also, we will talk about the RICE therapy and its importance in sports practice. Let's get started!
What are the most common types of injuries when playing tennis?
The way injuries occur in tennis is due to heavy training and repetitive movements. What triggers injuries in tennis players is the high impact on shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees and ankles. A smaller percentage are due to direct contact with other players, injuries and contusions.
The shoulder is the joint that suffers most during tennis, due to acceleration and abnormal movements. Among the most frequent movements are eternal rotation and abduction, which become extreme movements for this joint. They are usually performed in serving and spiking movements, especially when you want to achieve maximum range of motion.
Among the most common injuries to this joint are:
- Dislocations: This is the separation or exit of the head of the humerus from the glenoid cavity of the scapula. They commonly occur due to movements in external rotation of the arm, failure to use proper techniques, falls or direct trauma. It causes pain, inability to move the arm and, if not resolved as soon as possible, an increase in volume.
- Subluxations: In this case the exit of the head of the humerus is not completed and it returns to its position spontaneously. It is usually caused by constant injuries to this joint that cause an anatomical alteration of the joint. It generates a lot of pain and its characteristic feature is the dead arm sign.
- SLAP lesion: This is caused by direct injury to the fibrocartilage labrum. This can be partially or completely torn due to falls on the outstretched arm or repetitive movements. It mainly causes weakness, stiffness, clicking and instability when moving the joint.
The main cause of elbow injuries in tennis involves progressive degeneration. In addition, there is an increased demand for internal rotation of the elbow, combined with rapid extension forces that create compression on the joint. It is much more common in beginners or due to poor technique such as backhand strokes and rapid wrist flexion.
The typical injury in this joint is:
- Lateral epicondylitis: It is generated by an overload of the extensor muscle fibres of the arm when the correct techniques are not performed. It is a very painful injury due to the inflammation that is generated in the elbow, which is why it also causes burning. The pain and burning usually worsens with increased activity in the area.
Wrist and hand injuries
Most wrist and hand injuries can be caused by repetitive motions or direct trauma. Typically, the structures that are affected are ligaments, tendons, nerves and bones. Injuries are caused by ball-striking spins and two-handed backhand motions. They are also caused by the impact and trauma generated by the balls in the racquets affecting the joints.
The most common injuries are:
- Tendonitis of the wrist: The wrist suffers greatly from the impact generated by the blows and movements with the racquet. As it is an area made up mainly of tendons, degenerative processes are generated by overloading and repeated traumatisms. This condition causes inflammation, redness, weakness, crunching and snapping when moving the hand.
- Capsulitis of the fingers: This injury is common in the hands and is due to impact on the joints of the phalanges of the fingers. The trauma generates inflammation or rupture of the joint capsule causing pain, burning and accentuated inflammation.
Sports injuries to the spine in tennis players are generally due to mechanical causes. They are due to the nature of the movements of the sport where turns and sudden changes of speed are made. This generates disc compression as a result of the continuous contraction of the muscles of the spine.
This area tends to be frequently injured because it absorbs the continuous overexertion, and the most frequent pathology is:
- Low back pain: Most low back pain is caused by muscle contractures and tears or injury to the vertebral discs and nerves. These injuries are usually caused by wide-ranging rotational movements of the trunk to gain momentum. They generate pain in the lower back that can extend to the buttocks and the posterior region of the leg.
Knee injuries in tennis are commonly caused by repeated microtrauma to the knee joint. They are caused by the impact of turns, sudden movements, abrupt changes of direction and braking. The joint may suffer at the level of the tendons, ligaments or internally at the meniscus.
The most common pathologies include the following:
- Patellar tendonitis: This is one of the most frequent injuries in tennis, and involves the tearing or inflammation of the patellar tendon. This is responsible for joining the patella with the tibia and is responsible for allowing running, jumping and kicking. The injury is caused by frequent and repetitive movements that overload the knee joint. This injury causes intense pain when stretching the leg, sitting, jumping and bending, generating greater stiffness.
- Meniscus tears or wear and tear: Meniscus tears or wear and tear are caused by sharp turns and sudden extensions or falls with extended knees. This causes cracks and partial or total tears that generate diffuse pain, increased volume and functional limitation.
- Anterior cruciate ligament injury: This knee injury is caused by overstretching, tearing or total rupture of this ligament. It is the result of sudden stops, sudden changes in direction or jumps and falling on your feet. When it occurs, it generates a loud popping sound accompanied by intense pain, rapid increase in volume, instability and inability to move the knee.
Ankle and foot injuries
The ankle joint is always more likely to be injured, especially in tennis players. They are most often caused by the rapid changes of direction and jumping involved in the sport.
The most common injuries to the ankle and feet are as follows:
- Sprained ankle: This type of injury is caused by excessive strain on the ankle joint as a result of tennis players twisting and turning. This can lead to loss of balance and cause stretching of the ligaments which can be mild, moderate and very serious. This injury causes pain when moving the joint, swelling, bruising, crunching and instability. Crunching and instability.
- Achilles tendonitis: This is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon caused by very intermittent, intense sporting activities. It causes pain at the back of the ankle that can extend down the leg. The characteristic of this injury is that it generates a lot of stiffness in the ankle, especially in the mornings.
- Plantar fasciitis: This is inflammation of the plantar fascia caused by excessive stress from running or jumping without proper training. It generates intense pain when resting the foot, walking barefoot, or jumping accompanied by a lot of sensitivity in the sole of the foot.
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How to prevent injuries in tennis players?
Tennis can cause bodily injuries as a result of physical wear and tear, especially when there is no adequate preparation. To avoid injuries, it is advisable to monitor your training and keep yourself in top physical condition.
The most advisable thing to do is to follow the following recommendations:
- Warm up properly: It is very important to warm up for at least 15 minutes. You should start with a gentle jog, combined with resistance exercises and stretching. In tennis it is necessary to exercise shoulders, arms, hands, knees, ankles and feet to prepare them for the physical activity to be performed.
- Finish training with a cool-down: After a training routine or after a match, it is necessary to cool down for 20 minutes. Cool-down exercises combine a gentle walk around the court with deep breathing, and muscle stretching. Cool-downs provide optimal tissue recovery by bringing in more oxygen and flushing toxic substances from the body.
- Good nutrition and hydration: Before, during and after each training session and match it is necessary to maintain good nutrition and hydration. The diet should include a good portion of carbohydrates, a good portion of protein and, to a lesser extent, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. In terms of hydration, it is necessary to replenish fluids and electrolytes with plenty of water and isotonic drinks.
- Improve your fitness: The easiest way to prevent tennis injuries is to maintain proper fitness. It is not necessary to have a stereotypical anthropometric measurement. It is more a matter of keeping your upper limbs, lower limbs and trunk muscles in shape.
- Sports massage: Sports massages are designed to condition the muscles for future tennis training efforts. It also prevents injury, helps improve tissue condition and recovers muscles more quickly. They can be used before each workout or match and as a maintenance method in tennis routines.
- Use of hot/cold therapies: Hot and cold contrast therapies are an excellent option for muscle rehabilitation in tennis. The combination of heat and cold offers great benefits to the tissues. Heat causes vasodilation which allows for increased blood flow to the muscle tissues ensuring oxygenation and relaxation of the tissues. Cold, on the other hand, reduces pain and inflammation caused by heavy training.
- Wearing compression garments: Wearing compression garments is ideal for tennis practice because they ensure blood flow during exercise. In proportion they generate 40% more during training and 30% more during rest. This significantly reduces fatigue and the risk of future injury.
- Use of acupressure therapies: Acupressure is an alternative therapy based on acupuncture, a Chinese medical practice. It involves applying pressure to very specific locations throughout the human body to relieve muscle tension. It also increases blood flow to relieve aches and pains from the strenuous exercises of tennis.
- Use of thermotherapy and cryotherapy: Thermotherapy is one of the most useful therapies to prevent tennis injuries. Heat promotes tissue circulation, generating greater oxygenation and nutrition and providing relaxation to the tissues. Cryotherapy, on the other hand, generates vasoconstriction at the tissue level, leading to a decrease in blood flow. This results in a reduction of pain and inflammation after sports activities.
- Use of the right equipment: Finally, it is important to have the right equipment when playing tennis. Wearing the right clothing and footwear promotes comfortable training and prevents future injuries. Also, good equipment such as ergonomic rackets and quality balls, adapted to the athlete's level of training, should be chosen.
How to apply the RICE therapy to treat first aid injuries in tennis players?
The RICE method is a series of steps specially designed for the early treatment of sports injuries. It serves as an initial treatment before going to a more specialised care centre. Currently, the PRICE therapy, an update of the RICE therapy, is used, although the latter is still the best known.
These are the steps to follow when treating sports injuries in tennis players:
- Protection (P): The first thing to do is to protect the area that has been injured by preventing straining movements. This is done by placing orthoses or joint supports that do not allow flexion and extension. Among the most common are knee braces, ankle braces, among others.
- Rest (R): Subsequently, the rest stage should begin, which is based on reducing the activity load of the injured joint or area. It should be a relative rest and should not exceed 48 hours to prevent the area from becoming totally immobile. The best thing to do at this stage is to use a functional bandage to allow safe movements.
- Ice (I): In addition, cold should be applied to the area, which helps to reduce inflammation and pain. It should be applied with exposure times not exceeding 20 minutes, between 6 and 8 times a day. Compresses or cold gel packs can be used to make application easier and simpler.
- Compression (C): In addition, an elastic bandage should be used to prevent further inflammation at the tissue level. This elastic bandage will allow a better venous return and greater stability in the injured area. Just the right amount of pressure should be applied so that the tissues remain firm and allow daily activities to be carried out.
- Elevation (E): Finally, it is important to elevate the affected or injured area to help reduce blood pressure locally. When inflammation is present, blood flow to the area is increased and pain is increased; elevation will only prevent this physiological response. For elevation to be effective, the site of injury must be above the heart.
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